Learning laboratory chemistry through electronic sensors, a microprocessor, and student enabling software: A preliminary demonstration

Qing Zhang, Ly Brode, Tingting Cao, J. E. Thompson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


We describe the construction and initial demonstration of a new instructional tool called ROXI (Research Opportunity through eXperimental Instruction). The system interfaces a series of electronic sensors to control software via the Arduino platform. The sensors have been designed to enable low-cost data collection in laboratory courses. Data are collected by a computer and can be displayed or plotted in nearly real time, allowing chemistry to come to life. In addition, student data can be analyzed by the computer automatically and used to provide feedback to assess whether students are analyzing experimental results correctly. Because the computer and software are able to perform all computations and data analysis independently of the student, the software can assess the accuracy of student calculations and even assign grades based upon performance. In addition, since measurement data are logged and plotted, it is possible for the software to assist in assembling laboratory report files that students can print and submit. We envision that the feedback provided to students regarding the accuracy of computations and queries at the conclusion of the experiment can improve laboratory instruction by forcing students to revise or reinforce their mental models at the time of instruction. While this work describes only an initial implementation of the concept, the ROXI platform may ultimately be a powerful mechanism to improve laboratory instruction or serve for administering distance learning laboratory courses.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1562-1566
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Chemical Education
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 10 2017


  • Analytical Chemistry
  • First-Year Undergraduate/General
  • General Public
  • Hands-On Learning/Manipulatives
  • High School/Introductory Chemistry
  • Laboratory Instruction


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